Lately while reading through Exodus, I came across the account of Moses’ father in law, Jethro, visiting Moses (found in Exodus 18). As I read and noted some specifics, it reminded me of an oft asked question we get about the ministry of Poimen Ministries — “What exactly do you guys do?”
Hopefully, the following will be both an illustration, as well as answer this question.
First a little background, then some observations about what takes place that relate directly to Poimen’s ministry of pastors serving pastors. The Lord (YHWH) had made Himself known in some mighty and significant ways by — delivering them out of slavery from Egypt, swallowing up the Egyptian army in the Red Sea that Israel had escaped through, providing manna and quail in the wilderness, then giving the Israelite army victory over the Amalekites. A very impressive demonstration of the Lord’s power and provision for His people, in spite of their complaints.
After hearing about all the Lord had done (18:1), Jethro sends word to Moses that he will be bringing Moses’ wife and two sons out to him in the wilderness desert. As they meet, Moses bowed himself with his face to the ground and greeted his father in law with a kiss. Then they asked each other about each other. Moses relayed to Jethro all that had taken place — both the blessings and the hardships. Upon hearing these things Jethro exclaims, “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods!” There was an offering of sacrifices and they ate a meal together.
Then Moses returned to his responsibilities as leader of Israel — alone. Observing what Moses did and how he did it, Jethro had both questions and practical advice for Moses. Because of his relationship with Moses and the respect shown to him, Jethro was able to speak into Moses’ life.
Of course, Moses did what we all tend to do — explain and justify what he was doing (18:15–16). But Jethro simply tells Moses that what he is doing is not good, then Jethro explains why. He gives Moses his assessment and evaluation of the situation. The specifics of Jethro’s counsel are given in Exo. 18:13–17. Interestingly, it has similarities to a situation seen in the early church (Ac 6:1–7). Jethro gives his advice, but acknowledges that God needs to confirm it and Moses needs to make his choice whether or not to follow the counsel (18:23).
Most of us know well that Moses listened and accepted Jethro’s advice, responding with some solid leadership decisions. These decisions not only benefitted Moses and the people, but provided opportunities for others to assist in leading God’s people. Typically, this is seen as a model for the need of delegation, and as a practical guide for implementing it, similar to what is seen in Acts 6:1–7.
But there’s more than delegation going on here, there’s discipleship. In other words, it’s not just about the ministry workload, it’s about all the people involved in the process of doing the Lord’s work. It’s about mentoring others and being willing to be mentored. God’s vision for His work always extends beyond one person and the work to be done. This is the heart of Paul’s admonition to Timothy in 2 Tim 2:2. It is also the clear example of our Lord Jesus, which is explained well in Robert Coleman’s classic, The Master Plan of Evangelism.
All the pastors serving with Poimen have had our share of blessings and hardships. At times, there have been times of mentoring from those more experienced than us. Sometimes the mentoring took place on a more peer to peer level. But all of us know there were many times we needed more mentoring than we got, which could have helped us shepherd God’s people better than we did. I believe this is the heart of Poimen Ministries — pastors serving pastors.